Newcastle United's future director of football Dan Ashworth gives brilliant insight into the role that will please fans

Newcastle United’s incoming technical director Dan Ashworth has provided a unique insight into his role as part of a football club.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Ashworth resigned from his technical director position at Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of his expected appointment at St James’s Park.

Ashworth, according to Brighton, will take “a similar role at another Premier League club” following a period of gardening leave.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Newcastle, seeking to appoint a new director of football, were reportedly given permission to speak to Ashworth late last year.

Dan Ashworth as FA technical director (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)Dan Ashworth as FA technical director (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Dan Ashworth as FA technical director (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

The appointment will be seen as a forward step in the club’s off-field progress following the PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media consortium takeover back in October.

Ashworth, 50, has previously worked in a similar role at West Bromwich Albion and as The Football Association’s director of elite development.

The role has various different responsibilities and indeed titles depending on the approach the club wants to take.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Explaining his role, Ashworth said: “There’s a great deal of confusion about what the role is, partly because of all the different titles.

St James's Park, Newcastle (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)St James's Park, Newcastle (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
St James's Park, Newcastle (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"Seventeen of the 20 Premier League clubs have this sort of position and they’re called technical director, sporting director, director of operations, director of football, so there’s lots of different versions and with that come different job descriptions.

Speaking on the Training Ground Guru podcast in December 2020, Ashworth added: “During my time at the FA we wrote and delivered a technical director course. Part of that was to invite in all of those incumbents and say: ‘What do you do? What’s in your job description?’

“And it was so different. Some are based on recruitment, some are involved in academies, some have medical and sports science as well, some have training ground operations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There’s also a misconception out there that the Technical Director is just about recruitment. For pretty much all of us recruitment is a major part of the role, but it’s only one part of the role.

“I sit in the middle of a wheel and my job is to bring together seven departments, connecting those spokes. And when one of those head of departments leaves, you keep the wheel spinning and find a replacement.”

Read More
'A perfect performance' – Newcastle United new signing earns 10 in 3-1 win again...

Ashworth’s aims as a technical director are to ‘look after the medium to long term interests of the football club’ to help it flourish on and off the pitch.

And the 50-year-old has stressed the importance of forming a good relationship with the club’s hierarchy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The connection from the boardroom onto the pitch is important,” he continued. “Every club has a CEO and chairman - and budgets, philosophies and principles - and it’s really important we get that across, whether it’s club values or maximising the budget and making sure we’re spending the money in the right way.

“Setting a culture that gets the best out of people and players is the mark of a great leader. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of Apple or the manager of Brighton, if you can set a culture that means people have the confidence to express themselves, the space to succeed and get the best out of them, that’s the best you can ask.”

An area that has been highlighted as one to improve at Newcastle is the club's academy structure. The Magpies have struggled to have a steady stream of young talent breaking into the first team and establishing themselves in the side.

Sean Longstaff and Paul Dummett are the only academy graduates to have made a Premier League appearance for Newcastle this season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fortunately, it’s an area Ashworth has always looked to develop as a technical director.

“Of all my roles, the one I’m most passionate about is opening up pathways for young players,” he admitted.

“The recruitment department might be busy looking at a right-back from overseas when there's one right under their noses in the academy.

“From a Premier League point of view - and I have been guilty of this - because you have so much money in relation to the majority of the other leagues in the world, you can compete for most players in the world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Although I spent 12 years coaching and worked my way up to becoming a Pro Licence coach, I have never been a first-team coach or manager though. So do I fully understand the pressures they go through on a Saturday? No, I don’t.

“It’s really easy for me and academy managers to say ‘just chuck the kids in,’ but we’re not the ones who have to answer to the press or the 30,000 fans every Saturday if the results don’t go our way.”

Ashworth is currently on gardening leave after handing in his resignation at Brighton. In order for him to join Newcastle this season, the two clubs will have to agree on a compensation package.

If the club’s cannot come to an agreement, Newcastle may have to wait until the end of the season to make an official appointment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Regardless of whether he is appointed this season or next, Ashworth could be at Newcastle for years to come.

“This is quite a long-term role,” he added. “It’s not a job you go into for 12 months and out you go again.

“Long term, post [Brighton], I’ve hopefully got a number of years left working in football. I love being a technical director and have been fortunate to have had three wonderful opportunities to do the job.

“My ambition is to stay doing this job for as long as I possibly can, and after that, who knows?”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Newcastle United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription; sign up here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor